The Malta Independent 21 October 2018, Sunday

Leaders of our country failed us big time

Camilla Appelgren Tuesday, 25 September 2018, 08:27 Last update: about 25 days ago

In the aftermath of the ITS project approval I understood that the ones in charge of our country have little understanding of the harm they cause. I am not talking about the short-term effect which they claim are all positive, but the long-term one that they disregard in full.

The biggest misinterpretation is that environmentalists are against high-rise buildings no matter what. I can only speak for myself, but I am not against high-rise as such but the unsustainable way they are built in Malta. More than 4000 citizens showed a concern for the ITS project and its side effects and the fact that this barely was addressed is a main concern of mine.

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Let me start to explain how people cope with environmental degradation. Knowing about the issue isn’t enough for people to actually take action. There is no doubt that our leaders in Malta and the world leaders know about the issue we are facing very soon. The issue is that most people realise the reality first when they are face to face with danger. That, of course, is an issue in itself since once we stand there with the reality thrown in our face, we will realise it is too late to do something about it. The guilt and distress about that scenario is one of the reasons some decide to rather not do anything and just “go with the flow” and pretend that everything is fine. This is where our minds turn into our biggest enemy.

So the challenge we are facing, to make people care for our environment, is to make sure they don’t get overwhelmed by the feelings connected to it, that the people don’t avoid looking into the issues and keep on functioning well although the threat is present daily.

This is where I strongly feel that the leaders of our country are failing big time. Except from taking at times really devastating decisions affecting the majority and benefiting the few, they also lack in giving the support needed for people to cope. The people that actually do look climate change and environmental degradation in the eye and try to solve it, are being let down time after time. Instead of motivating the people to do good changes to save not the environment, but the humanity, the leaders are in many cases doing the complete opposite.

So what effect does this have on the society? People that all the time fight their own emotions about the threat of climate change and environmental issues, that will lead to our extinction, will get feeling of anxiety, despair and may develop severe depression. Please remember, what I am talking about now is simply the effect of destructive decisions by the people in power. Let’s add the psychological effect of lack of greenery and noise pollution and the combined effect is disastrous.

We are not only looking at a piece of soil being taken from the people. We are looking at human beings being negatively affected, consciously or unconsciously, and with a massive public health issue as a direct result.

I am in no way saying that we realistically can achieve a world without problems. A good mental health is not about having an absence of problems, but rather to make sure the people have the tools and capacity to work on them constructively. The bigger the issue is, the more people are needed to solve it. With this in mind, seeing the large threat to humanity that environmental degradation is, it is obvious that it can only be addressed by a cooperative action by caring people. When we unite, it is a moment of empowerment which gives people hope. On the contrary, it is understandable that the environmental issues can make people feel hopeless as well. However, it is actually one of the few world issues that the individual has a lot of personal control over. We can choose to take action or not and the effect will reflect that one decision. The reason why quite some choose to give up, rather than fight, is because they are so deep down the hole that is dug by the ones leading the way.

If instead our leaders took decisions with the environment as priority one, if they actually understood the extensive damage they do, not only to the environment but also to people’s mental and physical health, we would see another kind of Malta very soon. A livable and sustainable Malta.

People are not actually sad about the badly planned projects and lack of surveys conducted before decisions are taken, they are grieving. It’s a loss that could have been prevented. Only way to lose this battle is to lay down our weapons, let’s unite and fight this side by side.

 

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